Industry Front Groups: American Council on Science & Health, ActivistCash.com.

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Rich Murray: Rampton & Stauber:
American Council on Science & Health:
industry front group 3.27.0 rmforall

Subject:  Toxic Sludge is Good for You!
American Council on Science & Health - Industry Front Group
   Date:    Sun, 06 May 2001 12:15:30 -0700
   From:   Alex Constantine <alexx12@mediaone.net>
     To:     Rich Murray <rmforall@earthlink.net>

http://tompaine.com/features/2000/03/27/index.html
editor@tompaine.com

IN INDUSTRY'S HIP POCKET?
The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH):
The Group with an Ax to Grind

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber of the Center for Media and Democracy are co-authors of Toxic Sludge is Good For You.
http://www.prwatch.org/
autohits.htm

Whether the issue is health, consumer safety, environmental preservation or democracy and world peace, citizens today find themselves confronted by a bewildering array of hired propagandists paid to convince the public that junk food is nutritious, pollution is harmless, and that what's good for big business and big government is good for the rest of us.

Unlike advertising, public relations is often hard to recognize. "The best PR is invisible," say industry insiders. To spin the news in favor of their clients, PR firms specialize in setting up phony citizens' groups and scientific "experts" who spin out contrived research using junk science.

CMD staff members John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton produce what Daniel Zoll of the San Francisco Bay Guardian calls "some of the best investigative reporting around."

Our publications include a quarterly newsletter, PR Watch, and three acclaimed books:

Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?, which documents the PR coverup of human and animal health risks from mad cow disease
Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future, published by Tarcher/Putnam and available in bookstores on January 2, 2001.

We specialize in blowing the lid off today's multi-billion dollar propaganda-for-hire industry, naming names and revealing how public relations wizards concoct and spin the news, organize phony 'grassroots' front groups, spy on citizens, and conspire with lobbyists and politicians to thwart democracy. We expose the hidden activities of secretive, little-known mega-firms such as Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller and Ketchum PR-- the "invisible men" who control our political debates and public opinion, twisting reality and protecting the powerful from scrutiny.

Do you have a story to tell about the PR industry? We welcome whistleblowers and promise confidentiality!

Center for Media & Democracy
520 University Avenue, Suite 310 Madison, WI 53703
(608) 260-9713   fax: 608-260-9714    editor@prwatch.org

For the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), the "phthalate issue" (pronounced "THAL ate") is just another "scare as usual" - another media fire needing to be extinguished.

The issue has been simmering for several years, but it reached a flash point in the United States in November 1998 when the environmental group Greenpeace issued a report showing that soft vinyl children's toys contain significant levels of toxic chemicals-- up to 41
percent by weight. Greenpeace warned that children may ingest the chemicals, known as phthalates, if they put the toys in their mouths. "When children suck and chew on soft vinyl toys, it is similar to squeezing a sponge. Water comes out of a sponge, just as these toxic softeners can leach out of a toy," explained Joe Di Gangi, the author of the Greenpeace report.

Greenpeace was not alone on the issue. Health authorities in several other countries, including Austria, Denmark and Sweden, had already issued regulations banning phthalates. Similar measures were under consideration, along with warning advisories to parents and requests for retailers to voluntarily recall vinyl toys, in half a dozen other European countries and Canada.

ACSH responded to the "scare" the way it has responded on many similar past occasions, by announcing that it was forming a committee to study the question, headed by former U.S. Surgeon-General Dr. C. Everett Koop.

"Dr. Koop will oversee the blue ribbon committee's work and ensure that the most qualified scientists are recruited to look at the science on phthalates," said ACSH president Elizabeth Whelan. "We know that people want to hear from independent scientists and physicians on important safety issues. The committee's report will provide an authoritative point of view on the safety of phthalates in vinyl products."

Most people who read the news probably concluded that ACSH- - described in numerous stories as a "health advocacy group"-- was some sort of impartial consumer organization that could be expected to look seriously at the issue. Some reports noted vaguely that ACSH "gets some funding from industry." Overall, however, the media did such a thorough job of obscuring ACSH's identity as an industry front group that Plastics News, an industry trade publication, mistakenly credited ACSH for beginning the "barrage" against the plastics industry over the phthalate issue.

In fact, ACSH is anything but a critic of industry. Since its founding in 1978, it has actively courted industry support, offering itself as an off-the-shelf, available-on-demand source of "sound scientific expertise" in defense of virtually every form and type of industrial pollution known to the twentieth century.

Following the Money
For public consumption, ACSH calls itself "a science-based, public health group that is directed by a board of 300 leading physicians and scientists . . . providing mainstream, peer reviewed scientific information to American consumers."

When appealing to industry, ACSH uses a different pitch. A revealing reference crops up, for example, in the minutes of a March 16, 1978 meeting of the board of directors of the Manufacturing Chemists' Association (today known as the Chemical Manufacturers Association).

Written in the same month that ACSH began operating, the minutes record an appeal by MCA director William J. Driver, who noted that Whelan had founded "a tax-exempt organization composed of scientists whose viewpoints are more similar to those of business than dissimilar. . . . ACSH is being pinched for funds, but in the interest of independence and credibility will not accept support from any chemical company or any company which could even remotely be concerned with the aims of the council."

Notwithstanding this desire to make ACSH appear independent, Driver added that "Dr. Whelan would be happy to hear from" MCA members who "are interested in the work of the council and know of possible sources of funds."

Shortly after its founding, ACSH abandoned even the appearance of independent funding. In a 1997 interview, Whelan explained that she was already being called a "paid liar for industry," so she figured she might as well go ahead and take industry money without restrictions.

As of 1991, when the ACSH last made public its funding profile, some 40 percent of ACSH's $1.5 million annual budget is supplied directly by industry, including a long list of food, drug and chemical companies that have a vested interest in supporting Whelan's message. The organization is believed to still be heavily industry funded.

Stacking the Deck
ACSH claims to be an "independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization" that adds "reason and balance to debates about public health issues." Whatever "balance" means, however, it definitely doesn't mean ideological neutrality. ACSH is unabashedly right-wing and pro-industry. Whelan makes no bones about her political leanings, describing herself as a lifelong conservative who is "more libertarian than Republican." ACSH's board of directors is also heavily stacked with right-wing ideologues.

Take, for example, ACSH board chairman A. Alan Moghissi. A former official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Moghissi characterizes environmentalism as a belief that "members of endangered species deserve protection and that, because there are billions of humans, humanity does not qualify for protection."

As an "expert on risk assessment," Moghissi appears regularly on rosters of industry- supported "expert panels" that work to undermine environmental regulations. He serves on the advisory board of numerous anti-environmental organizations and right-wing "think tanks," including the American Policy Center's "EPA Watch," the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, and the National Wilderness Institute, a "wise use" anti-environmental organization that calls for abolition of the Endangered Species Act.

In 1990, Moghissi served on a panel created by the far-right Competitive Enterprise Institute, in league with Consumer Alert and the National Consumer Coalition to challenge the EPA's policy requiring asbestos removal from schools and other public buildings.

Moghissi also chairs the Science Advisory Committee of the Environmental Issues Council (EIC), which was established in 1993 by industry trade associations including the Association of American Farm Bureaus, the Association of General Contractors, the National Cattleman's Association, the American Pulpwood Association, the Natural Gas Supply Association, the United States Business and Industrial Council, the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), as well as the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

The purpose of the EIC was to serve as a "new ally against ill-conceived environmental regulation" according to Petroleum Independent, an IPAA trade publication. "The industries represented face common problems," it explained. "The spotted owl might seem to be an active threat only to the timber industry but is in actuality a direct threat to agriculture, mining and virtually any land user. In addition to the Endangered Species Act, all industries are seriously threatened by federal policies regarding wetlands, hazardous waste, and a multitude of other environmental issues."

Other members of the ACSH board of directors include:

Attorney Jerald Hill, a former long-time president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, which appears in the Heritage Foundation's list of conservative "resource organizations." A recipient of funding from right-wing gazillionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, Landmark has a $1 million annual budget and a reputation as a "conservative's American Civil Liberties Union." It has filed lawsuits against labor unions and school desegregation and has fought for legislation that would allow parents to direct public education funding toward their children's private schools. (Whitewater special investigator Kenneth Starr also has ties to Landmark, which has focused heavily in recent years on hyping the Clintongate scandals.)

Fredric Steinberg of Mainstreet Health Care, a private HMO in Atlanta, Georgia, who regards Canada's single-payer healthcare system as "the socialized road to medical oblivion."

Henry Miller, a former FDA official now at the Hoover Institution, who regularly grinds an ax against what he considers the FDA's "extraordinarily burdensome regulations" regarding genetically engineered foods and new drugs. In 1996, Miller also editorialized against the FDA's proposal to regulate tobacco. "The FDA's anti-tobacco initiative . . . has not been without its own costs to American consumers and taxpayers," he stated, describing FDA commissioner David Kessler as "personally consumed by this single issue."

The ACSH board of directors also includes a number of eminent scientists, such as Dr. Robert White of Case Western Reserve University and Dr. Norman Borlaug, a Nobel laureate. What is consistent across the board, however, is that all of ACSH¹s directors and advisors support its conservative bias.

"Some talented scientists may not understand that ACSH uses a veneer of science to obscure its anti-regulatory, pro-business position," says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "ACSH's scientific position is to dismiss most problems that kill fewer people than tobacco as not priorities and to put the burden of proof that a chemical is dangerous on consumers and lawmakers, rather than putting the burden on industry to demonstrate that its chemical is safe. ACSH provides a haven for scientists who think that environmentalists are crazy, misguided fanatics who make mountains out
of molehills."

In addition to the board of directors, ACSH also has a 300-member "board of scientific and policy members." Many of these scientists are supported by commercial interests.

Other advisors include familiar names from the list of "usual suspects" who appear regularly as scientific experts in a variety of anti-environmental, pro-industry forums: Dennis Avery, Michael Gough, Patrick J. Michaels, Stephen Safe, and S. Fred Singer, to name a few. Several, including Floy Lilley and J. Gordon Edwards, as well as Moghissi, have written articles for 21st Century and Technology, a publication affiliated with lunatic- fringe conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche.

When ACSH claims to offer "peer reviewed" scientific information, therefore, the public deserves to know that its peer review process is totally different from that of a reputable medical or scientific journal. "The ACSH review is done by members of its own advisory
committee," Jacobson says, "all of whom, by definition, support the organization's anti-regulatory, pro-business  stance."

PR Connections
The seventeen-member ACSH board of directors also includes representatives from two PR and advertising firms: Albert Nickel of Lyons Lavey Nickel Swift (their motto: "We change perceptions"), and Lorraine Thelian of Ketchum Communications.

Thelian is a Ketchum senior partner and director of its Washington, D.C. office, which handles the bulk of the firm's "environmental PR work" on behalf of clients including Dow Chemical, the Aspirin Foundation of America, Bristol Myers Squibb, the American Automobile Manufacturers Association, the Consumer Aerosol Products Council, the National Pharmaceutical Council, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, and the American Industrial Health Council, another industry-funded group that lobbies against what it considers "excessive" regulation of carcinogens. Ketchum boasts that the D.C. office "has dealt with issues ranging from regulation of toxins, global climate change, electricity deregulation, nuclear energy, product and chemical contamination, and agricultural chemicals and Superfund sites, to name but a few."

In 1994, for example, Ketchum's D.C. office worked on behalf of Dow and the Chlorine Chemistry Council to round up scientists who would challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 1994 report on the health effects of dioxin. Even before the report was released, Ketchum swung into action with a thirty-city PR blitz designed to undercut press coverage for the EPA report. "We identified a number of independent scientists and took them on the road" to meet with journalists, academics, political leaders and local health officials, Mark Schannon, an associate director of Ketchum's Washington office, said. "Basically what we're trying to do is assure that industry's voice is heard by people who make policy decisions both here and around the country," Schannon said.
**********************************************

http://www.acsh.org/     forum@acsh.org
The American Council on Science and Health, Inc.
1995 Broadway   Second Floor   New York, NY 10023-5860
(212) 362-7044    Fax: (212) 362-4919
Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H. President   whelan@acsh.org
(ACSH) is a consumer education consortium concerned with issues related to food, nutrition, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, the environment and health. ACSH is an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.

The nucleus of ACSH is a board of 350 physicians, scientists and policy advisors-- experts in a wide variety of fields-who review the Council's reports and participate in ACSH seminars, press conferences, media communications and other educational activities.

ACSH was founded in 1978 by a group of scientists who had become concerned that many important public policies related to health and the environment did not have a sound scientific basis. These scientists created the organization to add reason and balance to debates about public health issues and bring common sense views to the public.
**************************************************

The "quackbusters," a while back, formed an organization called CHIRI (Consumer Health Information Research Institute) for the express purpose of, as author James Carter MD, in his superb book "Racketeering in Medicine," says "The CHIRI has for its constituency the health insurance industry. It purports to serve that industry in an advisory capacity, by approving or disapproving a particular treatment provided by a health-care provider. It plans to serve as a health-insurance consultant regarding the legitimacy of certain disabilities and health practitioners. An example of an "illegal" disability would be chronic fatigue syndrome. CHIRI is also said to have a computerized list of more than 40,000 American physicians and other medical practitioners who are suspected of using "questionable medical practices." 

Carter, M.D., Ph.D., James P., Racketeering in Medicine: The Suppression of Alternatives, Hampton Roads Publishing, VA, 1992/93, pages 44-45.


http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aspartameNM/message/933
'Big Food' funded ActivistCash.com attacks celebs, foundations:
ngin.org.uk: Murray 12.30.2 rmforall

Subject: GMW: 'Big Food' funded Web site attacks celebs, foundations
   Date: Mon, 30 Dec 2002 18:33:14 +0000
   From: ngin@gmwatch.org
     To: list@gmwatch.org

NGIN - GM WATCH daily: http://www.ngin.org.uk
---
The article below is about "ActivistCash.com", one of the front sites of food industry PR firm Berman & Co whose self-declared "offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger."
[http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/2001Q1/berman1.html]

Berman & Co. are also behind the Center for Consumer Freedom
[www.consumerfreedom.com] which began life under the name "the Guest Choice Network" with the help of $600,000 from tobacco giant, Phillip Morris.
The Consumer Freedom campaign on "Food Technology" involves smearing organic food as dangerous and promoting what it calls "genetically improved food". Despite being pro-consumer choice, the Consumer Freedom campaign vehemently opposes GM food labeling. Berman also paints biotech opponents as terrorists, asserting that "anti-biotech extremists" are part of a "growing wave of domestic terrorism" and that the people we need to worry about are not just al-Qa'ida but "the middle-class kids down the street." [Terrorists On The March -- In America]

The list of "anti-biotech extremists" includes mainstream environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, which it accuses of conducting a "public relations jihad" on the issue, and even organisations like the Five Year Freeze and Christian Aid, the development agency of the British and Irish churches, whom Berman & Co. labelled a "far-left leaning" group of "future-fearing radicals" that "flat-out lies about GE foods" while hiding "behind a religious facade to more easily malign farmers, scientists, food companies, and even PR people who deal with GE foods."                     

ActivistCash.com claims to "root out the funding sources" of "the most notorious and extreme groups that conspire to restrict the public's food and beverage choices". In fact, as PR Watch points out, ActivistCash.com draws on information already largely public mixed with distortions and misinformation [http://www.prwatch.org/improp/ddam.html].

Ironically, Berman himself has taken extreme exception to attempts to root out his own financial relationship with the various lobby organisations run by Berman & Co. He even threatened a lawsuit for defamation after attention was drawn to his "funneling millions of corporate dollars - donated to non-profit organizations he runs - right into his own bank accounts.  Berman pays himself the cash both directly and personally in the form of salary and benefits for his role as 'Executive Director,' as well as through payments he makes from the non-profits to his own corporation, Berman & Company, Inc., for 'consulting.' " [http://www.vegsource.com/articles/berman_release.htm
http://www.parentalfreedom.com/response2berman.htm]
Berman was also implicated in a cash-for-favors scandal involving Newt Gingrich.
http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/2001Q1/berman2.html


---
'Big Food' funded Web site attacks celebs, foundations
By Andrea Coombes, CBS MarketWatch.com, Dec 27, 2002



            SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- Robert Redford is linked to "the utility infielder of nanny groups;" Mary Tyler Moore dwells among the "outer fringes of the animal-rights universe" and Woody Harrelson supports a group that's "turning into a violent version of Forrest Gump."

            Meanwhile, renowned foundations such as the Pew Charitable Trusts finance groups that are like "money-laundering enterprises."

            Such are the characterizations of ActivistCash.com, a Web site underwritten by food and beverage industry leaders to thwart efforts of activists to change food and farming policies.

            "You have self-appointed public interest advocates who are neo-prohibitionists in disguise," said David Martosko, director of research at the Center for Consumer Freedom, which operates the site. "You've also got the anti-meat crowd.

            "There are a lot of public health people that think America would be better off without meat and dairy," said Martosko, who declined to reveal companies supporting the site. "We want people to know who's buying them, who's paying them and who's connected to other activities with nefarious goals."

            National activist groups and celebrities pumping a cause often aren't the white knights they appear to be, but some groups contacted were stunned at how their efforts were being depicted.

            ActivistCash lists the Pew Charitable Trusts because it gives money to the Tides Foundation, which "routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used," according to the site.

            But Pew Charitable Trusts spokeswoman Barbara Beck disagreed, saying the foundation spends considerable time vetting all of its grantees, including the Tides Foundation.

            "When Pew makes an investment in a project, there is an enormous amount of fact-finding and research that is done before any support is given to any project. It could take years. We do our due diligence better than anyone," Beck said. "The Tides Center is a public charity, tax-exempt, the purest form of nonprofit."

            ActivistCash does not hide the fact that food and alcoholic beverage producers, restaurant operators and individuals fund it.

            "We're sort of like a trade association, but we're more like a public interest group that educates the public," spokesman Mike Burita said.

            Last week Tyson Foods (TSN) , the nation's largest chicken producer, suggested reporters check out the site to learn more about Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which filed a lawsuit against Tyson over product claims. See full story.

            On the site, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is characterized as a "fanatical animal rights group trying to pass itself off as a physician's organization" with physicians constituting "only 5 percent of its membership."

            PCRM spokeswoman Simon Chaitowitz said the group promotes a vegan diet devoid of all animal products, including milk and eggs, and opposes "unethical human and animal research."

            As for the group's membership base: "They act as if we hide our membership. We're proud of our membership. It's nearly 5,000 doctors and more than 100,000 laypeople," she said.

            Most of the activist groups listed on the site work on environmental, farming, or genetically-engineered food issues. Robert Redford is slammed for being associated with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Mary Tyler Moore for her work for the Farm Animal Reform Movement, according to the site.

            But Mothers Against Drunk Driving comes under fire as well.

            "We've seen MADD depart from their original mission which was curbing the problem of drunk driving to one where they're almost approaching a neo-prohibitionism," Burita said. "They've gone from targeting dangerous drunk drivers to targeting social drinkers.

            "Our primary focus is on food and drink ... (but) there are a lot of tangential things that tie into that as well," Burita said. "You see, there are groups that have a certain anti-food focus but are also anti-corporate and anti-globalization."
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http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aspartameNM/message/932
aspartame: methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid toxicity:
brief review: Murray 12.28.2 rmforall:

Rich Murray, MA    Room For All    rmforall@att.net
1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505 USA   505-986-9103

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aspartameNM/messagesfor 933 posts in a public searchable archive

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aspartameNM/message/862    long review

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aspartameNM/message/910
formaldehyde & formic acid from methanol in aspartame:
Murray: 12.9.2 rmforall

It is certain that high levels of aspartame use, above 2 liters daily for months and years, must lead to chronic formaldehyde-formic acid toxicity, since 11% of aspartame (1,120 mg in 2L diet soda, 5.6 12-oz cans) is 123 mg methanol (wood alcohol), immediately released into the body after drinking (unlike the large levels of methanol locked up in molecules inside many fruits), then quickly transformed into formaldehyde, which in turn becomes formic acid, both of which in time become carbon dioxide and water-- however, about 30% of the methanol remains in the body as cumulative durable toxic metabolites of
formaldehyde and formic acid-- 37 mg daily, a gram every month. If 10% of the methanol is retained as formaldehyde, that would give 12 mg daily formaldehyde accumulation, about 60 times more than the 0.2 mg from 10% retention of the 2 mg EPA daily limit for formaldehyde in drinking water.

Bear in mind that the EPA limit for formaldehyde in drinking water is 1 ppm, or 2 mg daily for a typical daily consumption of 2 L of water.

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aspartameNM/message/835
RTM: ATSDR: EPA limit 1 ppm formaldehyde in drinking water July 1999
5.30.2 rmforall

This long-term low-level chronic toxic exposure leads to typical
patterns of increasingly severe complex symptoms, starting with headache, fatigue, joint pain, irritability, memory loss, and leading to vision and eye problems and even seizures. In many cases there is addiction.  Probably there are immune system disorders, with a hypersensitivity to these toxins and other chemicals.

Confirming evidence and a general theory are given by Pall (2002):
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aspartameNM/message/909
testable theory of MCS type diseases, vicious cycle of nitric oxide & peroxynitrite: MSG: formaldehyde-methanol-aspartame:
Martin L. Pall: Murray: 12.9.2 rmforall
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